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Knitting Customs

Folly at Sausmarez Manor: A Majestic Estates Novella

Guernsey Island, 1801

It’s the fall of 1801 on the Island of Guernsey and LADY CORDELIA “DELIA” RUTLEDGE is in trouble. In more ways than one. MARSHALL COMPTON, the Marquess of Daventry, aims to help. In more ways than one.

This local pub full of Guernsey men aren’t drinking ale and getting loud. Well, they are drinking ale. And maybe being a little loud. But, what’s common here, and different elsewhere, is the clickety, click, click of knitting needles weaving lengths of woolen fabric. Quite the practice I’m told. It’s a good thing, too, because the people on the island have pockets to let. Fishing doesn’t bring in what it used to. Guernsey jackets and Jerseys are sought out throughout England and France.

What do our fine fishermen set out to do? They set their lines, anchor their boats, and wait for the tide to turn then it’s clickety, click, click while they wait. Another tight-fitting frock worn by the sailors comes back with the haul. And before you ask, no. The sailors aren’t wearing dresses. More like a loose outer garment worn by peasants (according to dictionary.com).

 

Possibly this?

 

Or maybe this?

 

Men and women of all ages on the island knit. It’s not uncommon to see women knitting while riding in the cart beside their husbands on their way to market. Families gather together with friends and neighbors to sing songs and tell stories. And, of course, knit.

Knitting: Supply and Demand

The demand is so high for the Guernsey woolen wear, island wool can’t keep up. Inferior breeds of sheep providing course wool and said to have four or more horns doesn’t help. Four or more horns? I’m trying to picture what that might look like.

Yeah, it’s a goat…but you get the idea

 

Something must be done, so Parliament helps by enacting provisions setting a strict limit on how much wool is permitted to leave the kingdom. After all, the island is famous for the woolen gems. In case you haven’t heard, Mary, Queen of Scots, received four waistcoats, four pair of sleeves, and four pair of hose. All gifted to her from Sir Leonard Chamberlain. I’m told she wore a white pair of Guernsey hose at her execution. I’m not sure if that last piece of information is boast worthy or not. I’ll let you decide.

Too Much Drink?

In FOLLY AT SAUSMAREZ MANOR, not everyone can privateer, and not everyone can capture a treasure ship. Emile and Jacques are no exception. They meet MARSHALL COMPTON, the Marquess of Daventry, and do they have a story to tell. Something about Guernsey men, short in stature, claiming fairy blood the culprit. Complete nonsense. Too much drink does that to a man. It can’t be from the knitting. Best leave these two to focus on their craft. But, what happens when complete nonsense morphs closer to the truth? You can find out in FOLLY AT SAUSMAREZ MANOR.

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References:

MacCulloch, Edgar, Sir. Guernsey Folk Lore: a Collection of Popular Superstitions, Legendary Tales, Peculiar Costumes, Proverbs, Weather Savings, Etc., of the People of that Island. London: Stock, 1903.

Featured Image Credit: Rutt, R. 1987, A History of Hand Knitting, B. Batsford Ltd., London

Chambers, IreAnne. Folly at Sausmarez Manor. United States: Purple Storm Publishing, 2018

2 Comments

  1. Linda says:

    Lovely. You have caught my interest!

  2. IreAnne says:

    Thank you Linda 🙂

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